In the colorful and scandal-marred annals of Maryland politics, the case of freshman Montgomery County Del. Frank Shore and his kangaroo will be a minor but illuminating footnote.
The time was the early 1970s, and Shore, hoping that the Maryland General Assembly would endorse the Australian kangaroo as an endangered animal, trotted out one of the marsupials before the House Environmental Matters Committee.
Witnesses report that the kangaroo was an effective and obliging prop for Shore until it hopped onto a committee table and proceeded to relieve itself.
"The problem was that we'd been feeding him all day to keep him calmed down," recalled Shore, who has made such show-and-tells his legislative trademark. "But, gee, we got the bill passed."
Nearly 15 years and countless photo opportunities later, Samuel Franklin Shore still is marching to a far different drummer than his 187 colleagues. Now a member of the protocol-conscious Maryland Senate, he is derided by some who know him as a publicity hound and the legislature's leading buffoon.
"His name on a bill is the kiss of death," groused one corporate lobbyist who is angry that Shore is chief sponsor this year of a series of bills to toughen the state's drunk driving penalties.
Others, however, say that Shore, 49, is one of a few decent and public spirited lawmakers here, a master of constituent service who is refreshingly unlike his often dour counterparts from Montgomery County.
"He's a top-notch legislator," said Gaithersburg Fire Chief Robert Wilson, who has known Shore for 10 years. Wilson, a dentist, has lobbied Shore on issues ranging from firefighters' liability to the regulation of dentists in Maryland.
"I've gone to Frank on a variety of issues, and he's always been very responsive," Wilson said last week at a reception held by the Maryland Dentists Association.
Shore attended the fete at the posh Governor Calvert House hotel and, true to form, worked the crowd like no one else that night. Instantly recognizable by his graying crew cut -- the one he has had since he was 13 -- and his still athletic form, Shore is a handshaker whose only peer in that department is Louis L. Goldstein, Maryland's comptroller.
Indeed, Shore unabashedly has modeled himself after Goldstein since 1966, when he worked in a Goldstein campaign.
"I watched him, studied him, tried to learn from him," Shore said. "Everybody knows Louis. He's genuine."
So, too, is Shore, who maintains strong and visible ties to his heavily blue-collar district that includes Rockville and Gaithersburg and working-class neighborhoods in between.
In 1978, Charles W. Gilchrist, then state senator for Shore's delegate district, exploited Shore's popularity in and around Rockville to win a three-way Democratic primary for Montgomery County executive.
"Frank was our entree into the fraternals and Catholic community" largely ignored by Gilchrist's two rivals, said Thomas B. Stone Jr., a Gilchrist aide and the county's lobbyist here. Gilchrist, who still credits Shore for helping him become county executive, later returned the favor and endorsed Shore in the race for Gilchrist's old state Senate seat.
Shore went to the Senate from Rockville with many of the right credentials: membership in Elks and Moose lodges and the American Legion, as well as active roles in St. Jude's Catholic Church where he sings second tenor, the Boy Scouts and Boys and Girls clubs.
A 30-year employe of the C & P Telephone Co., Shore also is a member of the Communication Workers of America and has worked hard to cultivate labor's support. In 1982, the largest donation to Shore's $22,000 reelection effort was a $1,000 contribution from the Maryland AFL-CIO, according to official campaign finance reports.
In one sense, Shore does what any smart politician would to ensure his reelection. He works the district relentlessly, getting his picture in the weekly newspaper, chatting with neighbors about erosion at a Metro station, sponsoring Senate resolutions honoring various community activists.
"He's not passing himself off as a Rhodes scholar," said a longtime observer of Montgomery politics, "but he's the guy who'll get you a flag that flew over the State House."
Although he has been the author of relatively few pieces of legislation, Shore has cosponsored major bills affecting such areas as labor law, transportation and education.
A District of Columbia native, Shore was an early supporter of a constitutional amendment extending voting rights to Washington residents. In the 1984 session, he fought successfully for veterans' benefits for quasi-military employes; this year, he is waging a highly visible campaign for mandatory seat belt laws as well as the stiffer drunk-driving statutes.
What sets Shore apart from the 46 other senators, however, is not so much the substance as the way he goes about the business of politics, in hyperactive pursuit of hands to shake and photographs in which to appear.
"Sometimes his zeal goes to the excess," said Senate President Melvin A. Steinberg (D-Baltimore County).
"My style is different from them," Shore acknowledged. "You know, there's only so much time in a 90-day session that a legislator will get. I equate it to getting ready for the Super Bowl. You play to win."
In trying to capture the limelight, Shore has the knack of positioning himself in front of nearly every camera being clicked in the State House. Last Monday night, for instance, Harford County legislators and the city fathers of Havre de Grace posed with Steinberg on the Senate dais for an official portrait marking that city's bicentennial.
The fact that it was a purely local celebration did not keep Shore from striding the length of the chamber to squeeze into the picture.
As several senators cried, "C'mon, Shore!" Steinberg allowed him on the dais, saying: "The senator from Montgomery County had a streak going. We didn't want to break it."
And Friday, when Gov. Harry Hughes signed a Social Security benefits bill, a photographer who already had taken pictures of delegates and senators -- including Shore -- had to ask Shore to leave when the time came for a third photo of retired state workers. Quipped Hughes, "That's the first time anyone ever got Shore out of a picture."
Although Shore usually appears oblivious to the jokes about his behavior, he, in fact is not.
"I know there's kidding, but I don't think it's meant maliciously," Shore said. "I consider it as good-natured -- most of it, anyway."